Ever hear of caffè sospes? How about pending coffee? It is more commonly referred to as “suspended coffee” which is when a person pays for coffee in advance for someone less able to afford it. We mention it because this custom is an Italian tradition that originated in Naples more than 100 years ago.
Someone less fortunate would pop his head into the doorway of a café and ask “Is there anything suspended?” The barista would nod and serve him a cup of coffee for free. The act of charity, in which donors and recipients never meet, is considered an elegant way to show generosity. While it used to be confined mainly to the Christmas season, the Eurozone financial crisis these last few years has caused a resurgence of the practice. The tradition has spread across Europe, where many cafes will post signs or logos indicating they serve suspended coffee. Italy prides itself on many things, not the least that it’s the country where Europe’s first coffeehouse opened in Venice in the 1600’s. That list can now include being the start of a (now) worldwide social movement that goes beyond coffee to “pay it forward”.